Latest review: Chosen Ones by Veronica Roth

By Ekta R. Garg

August 26, 2020

Genre: Science fiction

Release date: April 7, 2020

Rated: Borrow it / 3 stars

After saving the continent from a major threat, five young people find themselves struggling to return to normal life. When one of them dies, the others discover their mission may not be over. Author Veronica Roth offers her first adult novel to readers in a book with several shortcomings called Chosen Ones.

Sloane just wants the world to leave her alone. For the past 10 years, she’s been hounded by the press, conspiracies, and anyone on social media with an opinion on her fashion sense. Her friend, Esther, has cashed in on the attention, and her boyfriend, Matt, has turned it into a spotlight for worthy causes. But Sloane wants a normal life.

“Normal” isn’t in the cards for the Chosen Ones, though, and Sloane is only one of five people in that group. Along with Esther and Matt, Ines and Albie also joined Sloane in the fight against the Dark One. Fifteen years ago, he began killing people in terrible events known as Drains that pulled victims to shreds.

The government launched a search for those who could kill the Dark One. Sloane and the others were recruited and trained, and after harrowing events that involved magic and grit they did it. The circumstances of Sloane’s battles still haunt her; at one point during the war, she and Albie were kidnapped and Sloane can’t seem to get past it.

Society demands that she stay involved, though, so on the ten-year anniversary of the Dark One’s death she joins the others at the commemoration ceremony. Then Albie dies from an apparent drug overdose. The other Chosen Ones are devastated, but before they have time to mourn him Sloane, Matt, and Esther are whisked to a parallel dimension.

If real life wasn’t enough of a nightmare, the new dimension seems like that nightmare times ten. In this version of the world, called Genetrix, the Dark One is still alive and well. In Genetrix he’s called the Resurrectionist for his magical ability to bring back people from the dead and use them as soldiers. Genetrix officials have determined that Sloane, Matt, and Esther are the best chance to kill him.

The three Chosen Ones agree, but this new version of their home sets off warning bells in Sloane’s head. The longer she stays, the more she realizes it’s possible the people who summoned them may have lied. Sloane refuses to relive her encounters with the Dark One unless she knows it’s really the only option.

Author Veronica Roth’s Divergent series for YA readers became a hit on release, and she followed up those books with a duology also in the young adult genre. While Chosen Ones is positioned as a novel for adults, it doesn’t read like one. The only thing “adult” about the characters is their ages, and even that’s hard to believe. If readers make the mistake of thinking these characters are in their late teens, it won’t change the experience in the slightest.

Roth starts the story ten years after the major events have already taken place. In author interviews, she said she was interested to explore how a hero/heroine copes with the aftermath of the completion of their quest to save the world. If readers look only to Sloane, the answer would be to sit around and feel bad a lot.

Post traumatic stress disorder is a real challenge for many people and is not to be taken lightly. Given the hints and quick peeks Roth gives readers into what Sloane and her friends endured during their fight, there’s no doubt that Sloane is dealing with PTSD. Yet her voice sounds too young for the adult she’s supposed to be. What should be an existential crisis often comes across as teen angst.

Also, the novel takes a good 200 pages to pick up any sort of momentum. That’s half the book, and most readers won’t wait that long for Sloane to get her act together and find a new cause. By the time any sort of significant action begins, the book is almost finished and wraps up in such a rush that it feels like a letdown. Despite talk of a sequel, the end of this book isn’t compelling enough to warrant another installment in this story world.

Anyone curious to know what Roth has been writing since Divergent might want to read this. Otherwise, I recommend readers Borrow Chosen Ones.

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